A look back: No. 7 and No. 18 picks

Sometimes you have to look at the past to get a glimpse of the future.

The Cleveland Browns (No. 7) and Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 18) have the first two draft picks in the AFC North this year. But that doesn't always guarantee they will get the best players.

Here is a look at past picks taken in the same slots Cleveland and Pittsburgh hold this year:

Recent No. 7 overall picks

2009: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders

2008: Sedrick Ellis, DT, New Orleans Saints

2007: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

2006: Michael Huff, S, Oakland Raiders

2005: Troy Williamson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Analysis: Looking at these picks, Cleveland needs to be careful. The Browns could get a franchise player (Peterson) to take them to the next level at No. 7 or a complete bust (Williamson) to hold the franchise back. Ellis and Huff have been starters, but are far from Pro Bowlers, which is what you want this high in the draft. There is already talk of Heyward-Bey being a bust after an uninspiring rookie season, but he deserves more time. The biggest risk is the Browns will pay the No. 7 overall pick like a franchise player, regardless of how it turns out. Heyward-Bey reportedly signed a $38.25 million contract with at least $23.5 million guaranteed in 2009.

Recent No. 18 overall picks

2009: Robert Ayers, LB, Denver Broncos

2008: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

2007: Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

2006: Bobby Carpenter, LB, Dallas Cowboys

2005: Erasmus James, DE, Minnesota Vikings

Analysis: This slot has been very kind to the AFC North. Hall and Flacco are two very good picks at No. 18. Hall is one of the top cornerbacks in the division and a steady force with the Bengals, while Flacco already has led the Ravens to back-to-back playoff appearances. Ayers recorded 19 tackles in his rookie year and it's too early to judge. Carpenter and James haven't worked out for Dallas and Minnesota, respectively. But two solid players and one undecided pick isn't a bad success rate for where the Steelers are drafting this year.